Telling a Beautiful Story: Step 5 of 7 of the SMARTER™ Methodology

by Wednesday 25th October 2017Blog

I want you to image that you’re at a party and you have just been told they are about to serve the cake.

You love chocolate cake and are feeling hungry for a piece.

The hostess had done her research and chosen chocolate cake because she knows you like chocolate cake.

She thinks her chocolate cake is better than anyone else’s chocolate and she is excited to get you to try a piece.

Unfortunately, though, when the chocolate cake arrives it is presented on a dirty plate.

She uses her bare hands to break off random pieces of the cake.

She then places the mashed-up piece of cake onto a piece of scabby kitchen roll and hands it to you.

Do you still want a piece of chocolate cake?

Now image that the hostess wheeled the cake out on a silver cart.

She divides it into perfect slices with a silver Vera Wang cake knife.

She serves it on a beautiful china plate and unexpectedly also gives you a chilled glass of champagne on the side.

Now how do you feel about accepting the chocolate cake?  The cake is still the same cake in both scenarios, but in the second she’s exceeded your expectations.

In exactly the same way, so often bidders fail at this final hurdle.  Our customer wanted cake, we did our research and found out they preferred chocolate cake, so we offered that.  But the way it was presented at the last minute was the difference between the evaluators wanting or rejecting it.

To ensure they choose our cake, we need to tell a beautiful story in our proposals.

There are lots of tricks to help you improve how easy our bids are for our evaluators to read and understand, including visual presentation, graphics and looking at your proposal’s readability scores.  But the simplest way of all is to look at the way our answers are structured.

When most people write tender responses, they structure them using what is called deductive reasoning.

Deductive reasoning takes the reader from a general introduction to a more specific conclusion. Simply put, this means building up to your strongest point instead of leading with it.

Lots of people have learned this habit at University where we’re told to:

But by building up to your most important point instead of leading with it, you assume your evaluator will concentrate on what you’re saying until you get to your key message.

In this approach, you do not give them a reason to listen, a hook, you simply dive into the information, and hope that they will still be with you at the end of the 3000 words when you get to your key message, despite the fact they might have already evaluated 10 proposals just like yours that day.

The good news is, this is easy to fix: you just turn the triangle the right way up:

The aim is to start with your most relevant, engaging and striking point you want the evaluator to understand, demonstrate confidence in yourself and your solution and then follow with facts, details and evidence that gives credibility and justification for the buying decision if your evaluator wants it.

In addition, we always recommend adding a strong confirmation statement just under your most important message, that confirms that your solution meets the requirements of the customer and their specification, so that your evaluator can be in no doubt of your capability right from the outset.

This method is called inductive reasoning. It is the right structure to use because:

  • It gives your evaluator a reason to sit up and listen because you are addressing their pain, or Hot Button immediately;
  • It allows you to link everything you say within the evidence and detail back to the hook to remind people why your solution is important and relevant to them; and
  • You are more likely to hold your reader’s attention.

If you’ve read our other blog posts so far, you’ll know that the best bid in the world will not necessarily win business, unless there is some sort of early relationship or an exceptional understanding of the customer and what they really want.

But a badly written proposal will almost certainly lose business that would otherwise have been awarded.  In our experience, tenderers who Bid Smarter™ and structure their responses in this way are much more likely to win the work.

Intellitender’s Proposal Writing Guidelines have been structured to remind you to order your question responses in this way and ensure all your hard work has been presented in the best possible way.  If you would like a free copy of our Guidelines, get in touch and we’d be happy to send some across.


Intellitender Limited is a boutique bid consultancy that supports organisations like you to bid better, improve tender win rates and ultimately deliver long term competitive advantage. Intellitender deliver a range of business-winning solutions to our clients, including writing winning bids that maximise our clients chance of success.

 Our Bid SMARTER™ methodology is patented seven-step process that underpins the ways in which we help our clients bid better, improve tender win rates and ultimately deliver long term competitive advantage.  The SMARTER™ model spans the whole business development lifecycle, building on internationally recognised bid best practice and the foundations of consumer psychology.

 Intellitender has an industry-leading tender success rate of 87%.  How can we help you Bid SMARTER™?

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